I must admit that I have not always been a model student, which is difficult to admit since I was/am a teacher. Even into adulthood, my attention and disposition overall at professional development gatherings were, sometimes, less than stellar.
I think I can narrow it down to a couple of main issues, the first being my overall disdain for buzzwords and phrases. For a time, I was determined to leave meetings in quiet, but effective protest if I heard the term “resonates” or the phrases “think outside the box” and “paradigm shift”. I never did walk out; I simply lowered my head and doodled with the pen and paper I had been provided (to write down the streams of insight I was going to be privy to during the day).
The second area of discomfort for me has been the constant spending on trends in education. I have been witness to millions of tax payer and student dollars dolled out on programs that last one to five years, only to be hammered shut in the school arena and quietly relegated to the sidelines in the public realm so as not to really cause a kerfuffle of sorts with parents.
This brings me to an experience I had a few years ago when another teacher and I did a presentation on mindful breathing and neuroplasticity for our small staff. To my horror, a couple of colleagues were giggling and showing each other what was on their phones during our, clearly very important, slide show! I imagined them texting, “if I have to hear the term ‘mindful’ one more time…i’m going to gag…lol!”, or “mind this…” with a picture of Foghorn Leghorn’s backside attached.
I realized two things right then and there; the terms I was using could probably be perceived as buzzwords, and mindfulness could also be viewed as another fly by night, bandwagon, educational and social emotional strategy that won’t last. The experience gave me a renewed appreciation for language and how a single word can have so many varied responses and, to some degree, interpretations. As well, I was forced to face the reality that my ego was alive and well in that I believed mindfulness was well worth everyone’s time as opposed to other material I had been exposed to over the course of my career.
But here in lies the difference between mindfulness and other educational and health and wellness approaches. Mindful breathing and meditation have been around and established merit for centuries. The concepts entered the secular and medical fields in the late 1960’s in part thanks to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, et al. There are currently vast numbers of studies (big and small) and research demonstrating the efficacy of skills gleaned from these practices. What’s more is that becoming a practitioner doesn’t have to cost you anything.
‘At the end of the day’ mindfulness is a ‘win-win’ approach to overall ‘wellness’ through which we can ‘empower’ ourselves and others with a ‘sustainable’ strategy to invoke ‘transformative’ experiences.
See…I am capable of change and being open-minded; how about you? 🙂